Every time a driverless vehicle sets out it needs to be certain of one thing: that everything it expects to encounter is in the right place. White lines, bollards, pedestrian crossings. The things we normally navigate around using our eyes.

But take Australia, for example. It just can’t be relied upon to be in the same place year on year. Australia moves closer to Asia every year by about 7cms. Since the last GPS calibration in 1994 the continent has moved by 1.6m. GPS is accurate but it doesn’t track changes like continental drift.

Because the landscape moves, the macro factor has real impact at the micro level. The risk to people in and around driverless cars presents a bit of a problem. Imagine driving down the road and the corner of the street is now where the white line used to be but you can’t see it. Safety systems and human intervention will save the day but it’s still a problem.

The latest GPS correction in 2017 anticipates the system being accurate in 2020. For the next three years it’s known still to be wrong.

In Australia, there’s a harbour called Port Hedland. The ships that collect hundreds of thousands of tonnes of iron ore are vast. At certain times, the draft clearance between the ship and the sea bed is no more than 25cm. GPS accuracy here is critical. In this context 7cm is a lot. 1.6 metres is huge.

Here’s the analogy.

Even the most accurate GPS system can only use machines to get close to a target destination. When we get to the fine detail, humans need to intervene.

Planning business strategy is the same.

Lots of us simply don’t plan the journey. Proactive companies use data that can get close to the broadest strategic destination. Individually we adjust the plans to ensure the accuracy of our product positioning is precise.

If you haven’t started your journey yet, drop us a line or pick up the phone. A call costs nothing and may even signpost a new way.

Future thinking: it’s what we do at room44.

Drop us a line at helpme@room44.co.uk and let’s see how we can help each other.

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